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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: SPORTS VS. ECS
By Puzzled (Puzzled) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:10 pm: Edit

My son is a sophomore at a demanding highschool.
His grades are so far all A with a demanding curriculuum choice. Though he has many interests and opportunities to do extra curricular such as debate, math team etc. He has not done any and probably won't have time to do any, because of his sports activities. In the fall he runs crosscountry and plays club soccer. In the spring he plays soccer for his school. He has little time for anything else besides his school work. Assuming he continues to make top grades and scores well on SAT, is this a problem. Should I be strongly encouraging to do other activites for college admissions? (He is a good solid soccer player and runner, but not a star.)
I appreciate any advice.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:27 pm: Edit

What the top colleges look for are students who follow their passions. They prefer students who focused intensely on one or two activities to students who did a variety of things. The exception are students who are very outgoing, and have the time and energy to pursue several very different things at an intense level.

If sports is where your son's heart is, let him pursue those interests as deeply as he can while maintaining good grades. He will not need to do some other extracurricular to be attractive to colleges. He could look, too, at pursuing sports even more deeply by doing things like coaching, volunteering with younger kids' sports activivties and with Special Olympics, and by doing sports summer camps.

By Puzzled (Puzzled) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:33 pm: Edit

Thanks, northstarmom, your post has some good ideas.

By Katwkittens (Katwkittens) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:34 pm: Edit

My son, currently a junior, was in the exact same situation. Demanding schedule, 7 APs,1H, straight A's, summer programs, varsity football, wrestling and per season, and NO TIME for ECs. With his older sis's help at time management (she's a senior with 3 sports, but one year-round) she taught him the careful balancing act of adding clubs and volunteering. She and he picked just a few clubs they were both very interested in and could make a long committment to, basically 4 years. They tried to limit it to 3, NHS, Key Club and Spanish H Club. They both managed to alternate days and leaving early to go to practices and/or meets or games. Since moving they have added Science H Club and National Achiever's Society but these meetings are not as often and do not require as much committment. They have also used overlapping functions to fund raise or raise the awareness of other clubs at the same time. Both have held leadership positions but have chosen carefully based on their other committments and not wanting to let teammates or other club members down. For example, when nominating they would make sure a particular position would not be as time intensive as chair vs. secretary. Different requirements, different responsibilities. The years my daughter was captain of a team was not one of the years she would have a more time-intensive position in her clubs. She was careful to not bite off more than she could chew. Tempting and flattering as some of the positions would have been she made sure her focus remained on the whole picture, trying not to get bogged down in the details.

Son is now following in her footsteps, and is more careful and thoughtful in his choices. So, yes it can be done, I think Susan's daughters have been able to do this and much more. She too, would be able to offer some wonderful advice.


By Patient (Patient) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:57 pm: Edit

Northstarmom is absolutely right on.

My son did just his sport (only one) freshman year. Over the years he added a couple of other ec's so that by senior year he was juggling 3(newspaper, jazz band and sport). He took things at his own pace and it all worked out really well.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 05:44 pm: Edit

I agree about schools looking for commitment and passion...not a laundry list of every possible activity. DS's only sport in school was tennis and that was at the JV level for 9th and 10th grade. He did NO other school sports. BUT he was heavily involved in musical activities both in and out of school that truthfully took so much of his time that sports participation was out of the question. For example, he would probably have continued tennis, but the school kept switching the practice times and they conflicted with music lessons and ensemble participation (out of school). was dropped.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 05:58 pm: Edit

It's easy to forget that for your son, the most important part of his education is happening RIGHT NOW. There is nothing happening educationally at Yale today than is more important than what is going on in your backyard. Really.

Who knows? Times change. Life changes. People change. There are hundreds and hundreds of colleges and universities out there, like so many brand names, with faculty trained at the same institutions, with students coming from the same high schools and prep schools, with similar course structures, and all requiring four years (usually). There is certainly going to be one right one (actually probably about two or three dozen right ones) out there for your son when the time comes.

Now, personally of course, we took a more radical approach. We homeschooled, and made believe ECs didn't exist. We just didn't make arbitrary distinctions between different parts of life, though we made sure my d. was aware of what SOME colleges tended to like so that she covered the bases (in most cases - we did hit one place which was bizarrely "anal" about the whole thing.) Our job as parents is to help foster aware, alive, energetic, and mature young people prepared and excited about taking on new and interesting challenges, and who can commuicate that to others.

The rest is just packaging.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 06:03 pm: Edit

Sports are viewed as ECs and part of the student's participation in his school community. The only time you can get a big push in admissions with sports is if you are going to be a contributing athlete in college. You then become an athletic recruit and depending on the sport and the college and the athletic department, your app can get a big boost.

But kids who love sports and are active in them, or are active in a sport not big at a school also are viewed favorably. Schools have been investing big bucks in their athletic facilities and they have no intention of letting them lie fallow. The club sports and kids who work out are looked upon with some favor. It is another dimension to the student. The same for kids who are heavily into music but not intending to major in it. They are still desirable in rounding out the student body and bringing life to the musical ensembles and groups on campus.

By Reveler (Reveler) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 07:33 pm: Edit

If someone plays sports and indicated that they will be willing to play at some level in college doesn't have to be any of the NCAA levels. Colleges will see that they have achieved the carefule balancing act of rigorously pursuing a sport while maintaing strong grades. This in no way hurts the applicant. If anything it favors them. To be passionate about a sport and to focus and dedicate oneself to that particular sport is a very big achievement and all of you out there who are passionate about a sport but don't plan on playing it at the college level don't worry because your dedication and enthusiasm will be seen and adcoms will view it as one other way of how you could help contribute to the community.

By 3togo (3togo) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 03:16 pm: Edit


Interesting way to title this discussion. Sports are an EC.

Disclaimer first, I'm an old geezer parent and come in with a bias as I was jock in HS.

When I see life-long activities that are very time consuming I view them very highly whether this be sports, theater, music or art (or whatever). Kids pursuing these activities may not have tons of other ECs but they have show passion and commitment. (I was a distance runner in high school and that was a 15-20 hour deal per week 12 months of the year). When I see the laundry list of clubs and academic ECs I often wonder about these on two dimensions ... first, how much commitment does 3-4-5 clubs take versus a year-around focussed musician or athlete ... and second, and more importantly, the club and academic ECs oftern do not appear show the breath of interests that other focussed ECs show.

So for me the focussed committed ECs look terrifc. Just one opinion.

By Puzzled (Puzzled) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 12:01 am: Edit

Thanks for all the different perspectives. I know I am a bit overanxious. This board is extremely helpful in so many ways.

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